Elise

Maya Jex is Director of Global Research Initiatives (GRI). Maya has been on board since the program's start in Spring 2011 and oversees GRI's four programs: Faculty Research Initiatives, Washington Square Housing, GRI Research Institute and Summer Dissertation Writing Workshops.


Q: Can you please tell us about your role within the Office of the Provost?

A: I'm Director of Global Research Initiatives (GRI), a program that offers access and resources to faculty and doctoral students that would like to engage with NYU's global network.

Q: Reflecting on your years with GRI, what has your journey been like? How has the GRI changed throughout your tenure?

A: My journey at GRI has always felt a little star-crossed. While at another role at NYU, I was contacted by Provost Emerita, Katherine Fleming about working on a new program that was still in the planning stages. When I learned about the details I became very excited. I had just finished my Master's at Steinahrdt's International Education program, and not only was the program a perfect fit for my background, it touched on my passion for facilitating international experiences for scholars- something I believe can totally change the trajectory of a scholar's work, and possibly, their life. We started small- piloting the GRI fellowship program at NYU Berlin back in spring of 2011, and have since expanded to ten different NYU locations- and this is just one facet of the program. The change throughout my time with the program has been one of expansion. It is a dynamic program, and we've endeavored to move quickly to meet the international research needs of the NYU community.

Q: Can you describe the programs offered by the GRI and how faculty and grad students can take advantage of these opportunities?

A: There are four components of GRI programming. The GRI Fellowship program offers full-time faculty and doctoral candidates support to conduct on-site research at one of ten NYU locations by providing air travel, a per diem, and an office at an NYU facility. The goal is to provide an academic home base for those that wish to conduct research abroad. Fellows work on their own research projects- students work on their dissertations, while faculty engage in all kinds of scholarly work for which they need an office. In this way we create research communities at NYU centers of scholars from different schools, departments, and in different stages of their careers, that are encouraged to engage with each other as well as life at the site. Fellows stay anywhere from 1-3 months, and let their experiences in the city, center, and with one another, inform and enrich their work. The Summer Dissertation Writing Workshops operate as a complement to GRI fellowships for students. Unlike the fellowships, these are structured, 6-week workshops for doctoral candidates that have completed the bulk of their research and are in the final, writing stages of their dissertations, preparing to file. The workshops include air travel, student housing, a workspace, and a per diem. Students work with an on-site advisor that facilitates the program, helping them meet writing goals, and work through writing productivity blocks. Former GRI fellows often participate in these workshops to cap off their GRI and student experience at NYU. The Washington Square Housing for International Researchers program gives faculty in New York an opportunity to apply for housing on the Washington Square campus for an international faculty collaborator. These fully-furnished apartments are available at subsidized rates, for stays starting at 1 calendar month, up to one or two semesters. Faculty Research Initiatives provides funding support to groups that are hosting internationally-oriented events, particularly those with links to Global NYU Centers.

Q: How do you see the GRI evolving? What are your most immediate goals? Long term goals?

A: In the short term, I want to create stronger links between our office in New York, and our colleagues at the various international locations that help create amazing experiences for GRI fellows. In the longer term, I'd like to offer more information to potential applicants about the resources available at each GRI location, and how these can inform and enhance their current research. I see us evolving towards more intentional programming- perhaps bringing together groups working on specific topics at relevant sites. I'd also like to see our reach expand to ensure that anyone who might be interested in GRI programming is aware of this resource and how to apply.

Q: How do you encourage faculty and grad students to apply?

A: We have a series of email blasts that are distributed to all full-time faculty and doctoral candidates, and lead them to our webpage with more information and applications. I speak with GRI faculty fellows and encourage them to spread the word about the program to their colleagues as well as their students. I have spoken at faculty meetings to give people information on our various offerings and how to apply. I endeavor to keep a virtual open door for anyone with questions about the program, as well as to those that think they know someone that could benefit from participating in the program. We are in the process of working on new ways to get the word out too- perhaps by engaging with deans and department heads directly.

Q: Can you tell us more about the GRI Buenos Aires program launching this summer?

A: This is an exciting new direction for GRI in which we are opening applications to faculty to participate in a more structured GRI research program. Participants will be in Buenos Aires for a set six week period, and will be offered travel, a work space, and a stipend, as with the traditional GRI fellowship, but housing will also be included. The program will feature a series of weekly events designed to help participants engage with local researchers and resources, to help them enhance their work and connect with the city itself. The program will end with a roundtable discussion in which participants will share their findings and experience with others.

Q:What brought you to NYU and to your current position?

A: My relationship with NYU began as early as one can- my father was a faculty member, and later, Director, of what used to be called the American Language Institute, at SPS: the division at NYU that was dedicated to teaching English as a second language. I grew up going to women's basketball games (Go Violets!) and participating in NYU community events as a kid. When the time came for me to go to college, there was no doubt where I was going- I attended Gallatin, focusing on travel writing, and had the life-changing experience of spending two semesters abroad: one in Florence, and one in Prague. This was my first time in Europe, and even then I realized that studying abroad was changing the course of my life, expanding my mind in ways I did not think was possible, as I learned that there are so many different ways to live a life. After graduating, I worked for a few years at Cooper Union and then spent three years teaching English in Korea. I decided I needed an advanced degree to further pursue my interest in international education and applied to just one school. When I was accepted to NYU, I was working full time at an internet startup and realized that I'd be much better served by working at NYU. I ended up accepting a job at the Remarque Institutes, as its international focus aligned with my interests. I worked there while obtaining my Master's degree at Steinhardt's International Education program, and that's where I was when I was approached about the opportunity at GRI. The way that my study abroad experience at NYU enriched my life is always front of mind when working on GRI programming- how can we bring these amazing international resources to a broader NYU audience? How can we further enhance our current offerings and support our fellows? These are the questions I get to work on with the talented team at the Provost's Office, and it frankly feels like a privilege.